Welcome to the first edition of my DFS football writeups! The NFL season officially kicks off tonight with Philadelphia playing host to the Atlanta Falcons, and the single game contests are live tonight. This article deals with the 12-game Sunday main slate, and FanDuel has FINALLY eliminated the kicker (Hallelujah!). This makes the site a LOT more playable in cash games, and the half PPR is a nice element if you like more TD and yardage dependent contests. I will not be in chat tonight, but I will return for baseball tomorrow, and obviously will be on with plenty of time this Sunday to help all our loyal subs. I’m also on twitter @jac3600. Let’s go!!
Tom Brady, NE ($8600)
Tom Terrific headlines the QBs for this first week of football, but I’m really not finding it necessary to pay up for a QB in cash (especially with the FLEX position now in play). Much like the strategy I use waiting on QBs in season-long leagues, the possible outcomes for the position is a lot tighter than it is at the skill positions just based on volume alone. The NE/HOU game has the highest on the slate at 50.5 points, and Houston ranked 22nd in FPS allowed the QB position and 23rd in DVOA against the pass.
Other options – Drew Brees, DeShaun Watson, Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger
Philip Rivers, SD ($7500)
Rivers is a nice cash game play at this price, and he has a matchup against the Chiefs that looks like one we’ll want to exploit all year. The Chiefs ranked 25th in DVOA pass defense last year and traded away Marcus Peters to the Rams. The Chiefs defense has looked like a mess all preseason, especially in the third game where their first-teamers couldn’t stop the Bears’ subs. Rivers is always a high-volume QB, and has a legit #1 WR at his disposal (Keenan Allen).
Other options – Andrew Luck, Kirk Cousins, Marcus Mariota
Ryan Tannehill, MIA ($6200)
Tannehill is a sneaky GPP option that enables you to fit in lots of high-powered skill players. Tennessee was a top-ten rush defense last season but funneled a lot of fantasy points in the passing game, and their secondary has had some turnover this year. Tannehill is also not afraid to run the ball which adds to his upside, and he’s dirt cheap.
Other options – Blake Bortles, Patrick Mahomes, Alex Smith, Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Fitzpatrick
Alvin Kamara, NO ($8700)
Kamara is one of the premier plays on this slate, and one that I would force into cash. Mark Ingram has been suspended for the first four games which should fully unleash Kamara (he had a combined 52 touches in the Saints’ last three games last year anyway, and that was with Ingram garnering a full workload). The Bucs are a horrible defense that ranked 31st in DVOA rush defense and 25th in DVOA pass defense to the running back position. Kamara was a scary draft choice for me this year as I was worried about his year-long efficiency based on last season, but I’m all in for week one in this matchup.
Other options – David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott, Melvin Gordon, Kareem Hunt, Leonard Fournette
Christian McCaffrey, CAR ($7500)
Has anyone surged up draft boards as rapidly as McCaffrey this past month? He recently went as high as seventh in my latest NFFC draft, and it’s clear the Panthers are devoted to featuring him in both the running and passing game (even with the signing of C.J. Anderson). The Cowboys ranked 22nd in DVOA rush defense and 28th in DVOA pass defense to the RB position. McCaffrey is probably better on DraftKings with the full PPR floor, but he fits right into FD lineups at this price as well.
Other options – Saquon Barkley, Dalvin Cook, LeSean McCoy
James Conner, PIT ($5000)
As of this writing, LeVeon Bell still hasn’t reported to the Steelers, so I think we have to assume he’s going to sit unless we see a drastic turnover in the next 48 hours. If Bell does indeed wind up sitting, Conner is a lock. Don’t worry about matchups, don’t worry about efficiency. Play a bellcow back at 5k. Every time.
Other options – Joe Mixon, Kenyan Drake, Alex Collins, Lamar Miller, Rex Burkhead, Royce Freeman, Carlos Hyde
Michael Thomas, NO ($8500)
I fully expected to write Antonio Brown’s name in here with Bell’s situation, but I actually like Thomas a touch better for week one. There are several factors in the Saints passing game that would seem to open up more targets to Thomas (Ingram’s suspension, Cameron Meredith’s injury, Tre’Quan Smith’s inexperience), and he was a premier receiver consistently last year. The Saints implied total looms large on this slate, and Tampa Bay does not have any corners remotely capable of stopping Thomas.
Other options – Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, AJ Green, Keenan Allen
Odell Beckham, NYG ($7800)
Odell has a brutal matchup against Jalen Ramsey, but Beckham is still an elite WR who is simply not priced like one. With so many values I still don’t see the need to roster OBJ in cash, but this is about the only time you’ll ever see this much of a discount on him, and the Giants can get creative and line him up in the slot, or even out of the backfield. He can take it to the house on any play, and has GPP-winning upside.
Other options – Mike Evans, Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Larry Fitzgerald, TY Hilton, Juju Smith-Schuster
Keelan Cole, JAX ($4500)
The beauty of week one DFS is the fact that the priced are released SO long before the season begins that you can find some serious value from players that weren’t originally on the radar. Cole absolutely fits this value at the bare minimum price, and he should take over the #1 WR for the Jags. Like Odell Beckham on the other side of the ball, Cole likely has a terrible one-on-one matchup against Janoris Jenkins, but there is literally no downside for a player priced this cheaply, and he allows you to fit in multiple top RBs and even one or two high-priced WRs if you go cheaper at QB.
Other options – Chris Hogan, Jarvis Landry, Emmanuel Sanders, Kenny Stills, Danny Amendola, Jamison Crowder, Sterling Shepard, Will Fuller, Devin Funchess, Pierre Garcon, Marquis Goodwin, Tyrell Williams, Mike Williams
Rob Gronkowski, NE ($7900)
I generally tend not to overpay for tight ends on FD, but Gronk may be a different case this week. Sure, he’s far more expensive than the others at the position, but he also laps the field as far as expected production. Gronk is healthy, and not will he steal a lot of the targets that would’ve gone to Julian Edelman, but the Patriots have no depth at the TE position which means we could see over 90% of snaps played by Gronk. The Texans defended the position fairly well last year, but still ranked 23rd in DVOA pass defense. There is no argument against paying up.
Other options – Travis Kelce, Greg Olsen, Delanie Walker
Ryan Griffin, HOU ($4700)
If you’re not paying up for Gronk in cash, you’re punting all the way down (dabbling in the mid-tier doesn’t seem the optimal path this week). Griffin is my favorite punt for a Texans team that should be throwing a lot against New England, and Griffin is expected to see a higher market share this season with Stephen Anderson (10.6% MS last year) and C.J. Fiedorowicz (12.2% MS last year) gone. Gronk is the only TE with a floor you can trust paying all the money floor, but Griffin has great upside for such a low price tag.
Other options – Jack Doyle, David Njoku, Jordan Reed, Ricky Seals-Jones, Mike Gesicki, Austin Seferian-Jenkins
TOP FIVE DEFENSE FOR CASH GAMES
- Baltimore Ravens ($4800)
- New Orleans Saints ($4600)
- Jacksonville Jaguars ($4700)
- New England Patriots ($4200)
- Miami Dolphins ($3200)